Conversation with Raven Davies
Question: Did you know both of your novels are available as free reads?
Answer: Yes, very aware. What you are downloading, however, is against copyright law. I spoke to the American Writers Guild, and they told me every author is having the same problem. They have been trying to legally fight this theft without luck. You have to realize who is behind these free downloads. When you look deep into these sites, some are owned by the two huge corporations Google and Amazon, and yet they are also trying to sell the books online. The free downloads can't be trusted for their integrity to the author's original version of the story. The free downloads have missing parts, censored, and in places rewritten. Please keep to the author's original story, as these thieving sites do not pay us royalties, and along with that, could be planting viruses on your computer, particularly the ones where there introductions are written by someone whose first language is not English. I hope everyone takes note of this and helps all authors by buying the real version. Please, please, please. Thank you, as you are robbing authors and being scammed with these free download sites.
Question: I see you have finally published Between Here & There Revised Edition. How is it different from the original?
Answer: The story remains intact. I simply could not look at the original version with its many errors by the publisher and my own stupidity. The changes are grammatical, while retaining my own whimsical style. The storyline and metaphysical theory have been tightened to make it more readable and understandable. It's my own sensibility as a perfectionist, or as close as I can come to one. I'm happy the few new reviews of it have been so great.
Question: Why do you write Gay Fiction?
Answer: I write gay fiction based on my relationship with the gay community when I lived in Australia. My home was an apartment building that was 95% gay; and the stories of my neighbors were so interesting, I had to share how they felt about many things, including their feelings and what they did day-to-day and under the cloak of darkness.
Question: Gay Fiction seems a small niche market. Can you make money writing for this market?
Answer: Only a few authors are successful. With information from my gay friends, I understand that the true market for this genre is straight women; and gay men seldom buy gay fiction, because of the lack of true storytelling. I endeavor to make my characters interesting and heroic, without the stereotypical depiction of gay men, and involve them in tales that are relevant to the world, whether the subject is of faith, conservation, poverty, political, ancient mysteries: the list is long. I give my characters something to believe in and do, with strange adventures, romance, and alternate lifestyles.
Question: As a Canadian, why are your main characters American?
Answer: I lived a number of years in New Zealand, Australia, and Mexico, as well as traveling throughout the world. Particularly in Mexico, I lived amongst ex-Patriots from the U.S.A. and through my characters, they have added some humor in mocking themselves, as outsiders see them. The jabs are meant to be lighthearted, to relieve the tension of a story; and looking from the outside, Americans are allowed a tiny glimpse of how the world views them. Besides, it's fun.
Question: Do Americans give you a bad time over what you say about them?
Answer: I don't sell enough to know, although my largest number of readers are American. It doesn't help my status in Canada, without Canadian content; but I try to add something Canadian within the story. Sometimes I think Americans don't catch the little stabs at their society. As I said, it's just for fun; and perhaps the only readers, who get what I say, are the readers from Canada and the International community.
Question: You started writing with Slash stories. What is Slash and why did you put five Slash novels online?
Answer: Slash is simply the change of sexual orientation of the main characters of a book series, movies, and the most popular, television series. It started as entertainment for gay men in underground newspapers in the late 1800s. With the advent of television and the internet, this genre of Fanfiction grew rapidly. I first realized what fun it was when a group of us (of like thinking individuals) would gather in the University Residence television room, and decided to relieve the dullness of television by changing two of the main male characters' sexuality. Every touch, expression, and statement became something else; and all those in the room could not understand our laughter over something that was supposed to be a dramatic event. Watching TV became far more fun and entertaining. I started writing Slash for my own pleasure. When my first novel length Slash came out, I asked several writers if they ever received email regarding their stories. I was told it rarely happened; although groups did form to discuss their interpretations. I left it at that, until realizing how long my first story was; and after a week went by, the next Saturday I received over a thousand emails. It was mind blowing, but I answered every email. I could not believe the great reception I received, with people begging for more stories. My readers saw the same attraction between the main male characters that I did. It was a wonderful experience, but years later, my only Slash story on this site has not received one email. I hope to remedy that soon, considering hundreds of individuals have obviously enjoyed the story enough to complete it.
Question: Why did you choose The Magnificent Seven to Slash?
Answer: How could you not. Seven single men, with very different characters, were too hard to resist. The first ten minutes of the Premier set the tone immediately. As a Calgarian, growing up in a Western city, with knowledge of horses and our own heritage, I could see some of the production teams inaccuracies: my stories correct these. I did a great deal of research after I started writing about the Southwest of the 1860s; and on my website, there is one free Slash read that was rewritten to incorporate many things I had learned of the time period. It was not a stretch to match men with men, considering the census was predominantly male during that time period; and in the bleak desert setting, of both their original town and my own discoveries in Mexico, it's a better story with a more enlightened ending. Besides, I love Westerns, and do not consider Brokeback Mountain a true Western.
Question: Your first novel Between Here & There received great reviews. Have those reviews helped your sales?
Answer: They may have, although the book did not sell well. I have come to understand that most Gay Fiction needs to be downloadable as an eBook; and therefore I have taken it away from one publisher and am re-editing it to become both a paperback and eBook. It will be relaunched the end of fall 2013 as a Revised Edition with a different copyright and ISBN. Between Here & There is the best story I ever came up with, and with luck will come to the attention of more readers of gay and metaphysical fiction.
Question: Your first book was gay fantasy fiction with no timeframe. When does it take place?
Answer: It was meant to be timeless and could be current in time. It covers twenty years from Ted and David's first meeting; and the story is just the beginning in a metaphysical context. The spiritual theory is from my own revelations, although the ending I was unprepared for. I don't write from a listed table of ideas, but from the first sentence I write; thus the endings are as much as a surprise to me as to the reader.
Question: Do you consider it anti-Christian?
Answer: Definitely not, just a change in a few beliefs and one's ability to challenge church dogma. It's a story of choice, allowing the reader to rethink different ideas, and perhaps, fitting new ideas into their faith. There is so much division between various religions; and yet, we all maintain the same social mores, such as one does not murder, steal, etc. This is common amongst all beliefs, but zealots of any religion still stand for hatred and do the most horrendous things in the name of whatever their god. It's very sad, as innocent people have been hurt since the start of community living thousands of years ago. Too many gods have arisen, each wanting to convince others of their reality. There is no reality or fact based religion. We all believe in hocus-pocus, instead of looking into ourselves and figuring out what we can truly believe in.
Question: Your second book, PlanetTerra Journals Volume I: WET SEASON, seems more political. Was that your intention?
Answer: No, as it's a story of fiction plus factual data on Amazonia, at the time of writing. The two main characters have a generation gap, allowing the story to revolve around two slightly different reactions to what they experience. The difficulty in writing this book was there is a time period; and that is why I decided to make a series of these two characters, in order for them to research other problems, as well as update the story to current situations on conservation of wildlife and the environment. With seven billion people, I hope to create interest in supporting the wild parts of our world and to deter people from hunting for sport and greed, to stop poaching, to stop invasive industry, and to stop humanity from interfering further with natural environments. We are losing so many species at a rapid rate, just for greed and to help the impoverished. We must learn to co-exist with our fellow creatures and leave them room to form natural habitats.
Question: Considering you have travelled extensively, why are you so reclusive and feel so isolated?
Answer: I have done much of my travelling alone, and for some reason, have always been reclusive, thinking constantly of ways to express myself and my thoughts. Having to work in my early years, I came to distrust most people, therefore separating myself from others emotionally and physically. I worked as an artist for many years; a time people came to me rather than me searching out work. As a writer, I find travelling alone, or living outside my home country, gives me a new perspective as an observer of the human condition, rather than interacting with people. Much of my writing, while in Mexico and when I first started writing, was done at quiet cantinas, restaurants, and airports; a great way to observe others. Being isolated allows my imagination to run wild, as well as researching important events of the day and historical background.
Question: Why have you chosen to self-publish?
Answer: An easy question, considering that Agents and Publishers only take a few books to promote a year, out of thousands of manuscript proposals received per day. Gay Fiction is not mainstream; and therefore, your book is not acceptable; and it continues with Agents and Publishers who do promote Gay Fiction. They do not give new writers a chance. I left my first publisher as they were con-artists, never paying me royalties, and if any new writer wishes to self-publish, please write me and I'll send you names of companies to avoid.
Question: What do you consider your pitfalls as a writer?
Answer: There are a couple. First, I have a problem in marketing my work. I live in a conservative city; and there is little chance for book signings. It's also very disturbing to one who does not wish to be in the public eye. Readings are impossible for me, as I become overly emotional reading my own work, as my writing comes from the heart. I also hold my breath and my voice does not carry, which also inhibits my ability to read aloud. The second pitfall concerns grammatical and spelling choices. Mechanical editing doesn't work, as Microsoft Word is fully American and their dictionary is limited, as is their misinterpretation of what a sentence is. It's very different if you use Canadian or British English, resulting in a far longer book. Considering the length people prefer to read and Agents want, a large epic becomes longer. Changing to Americanisms reduces the number of pages tremendously. As a Canadian, I try to use Canadian grammar with American spelling, which makes editing difficult.
Question: Is there anything you would like to say to your readers or potential readers?
Answer: Only to give new writers a chance. It's very difficult to get into this art medium, as only 3% of writers are published and 1% become famous, noted, or make money. The statistics are horrendous, but please give us a chance. Myself, I appreciate any kind of communiqué from a potential reader or one that has already read my books and Slash; and I thank them. My last request, of those who come to my site, is please buy one of my books. We're talking poor, starving artist here. Truly!!!